CHANTHABURI, Kingdom of Thailand --
“This has been my home for almost 35 years, and I grew too scared to live in it anymore when the roof started to collapse eight years ago from termites,” said Miss Bunnam Inprom, a 61-year-old Chanthaburi native.
With Inprom’s roof being destroyed by termites, the multinational team of service members from Thailand, South Korea and U.S. offered their hand to restore her home. It was full of dirt and debris since it didn’t have a roof anymore. Royal Thai Marines, Republic of Korea Marines and Sailors, and U.S. Marines got to work and swept out the leaves and dust from Inprom’s living room, then moved on to metal construction to install the new support beams and the roof frame.
U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 and MWSS-172 were working with the combined forces to construct an elementary school in Ban Bo Fai Mai, Chanthaburi, Kingdom of Thailand for Exercise Cobra Gold. The site was no more than a few miles down the road from Inprom’s home.
“We got involved through the U.S. Army’s Civil Affairs team that reached out, and gave us contacts within the village,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Stevenson, a combat engineering officer with MWSS-171 and officer in charge of the aforementioned construction site. “We had the building materials, we had the Marines, and we had the time.”
The combined forces had excess materials and hopped on the next truck out to Inprom’s home. They carried welded metal beams to replace every termite ridden beam and climbed on metal rods to install a frame for Inprom’s roof.
“I was just happy to help in any way that I could. Hearing the owner’s story made me think that no matter what happens to you, people will always be there to help you.” U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kyra Lozada, a metal worker with MWSS-171
For the last eight years, Inprom’s home has been uninhabitable. She decided to move in with her son and her grandchildren next door. She describes the fear that crept into her bones once she noticed how the roof gradually caved in over time.
“I thought my home was going to crush me,” said Inprom. “I built this home with my husband 35 years ago, he passed away three years ago.”
Inprom and her neighbors gathered daily to watch the combined force of more than 20 service members work on her roof. They offered cold refreshments, and prepared traditional Thai food for the service members working on the project.
“I was just happy to help in any way that I could,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kyra Lozada, a metal worker with MWSS-171. “Hearing the owner’s story made me think that no matter what happens to you, people will always be there to help you.”
Shortly after the culmination of Exercise Cobra Gold, the Royal Thai Marines with Construction Co. Combat Engineer completed Inprom’s roof. She moved out of her son’s home, and refurbished her living area with furniture, clothes, and other personal belongings.
The Marine Corps continues to train in its primary warfighting functions, but exercises like Cobra Gold provide unique opportunities to help others in need. This type of support enables citizens like Inprom to be able to live in her own home again. The Marine Corps is not just a fighting organization, it’s a melting pot of Marines from all corners of the United States eager to help those in need.